The town of Las Vegas, New Mexico, is welcoming a new owner to local bookshop Tome on the Range, a 17-year-old fixture in the southwestern community. Noemi de Bodisco assumed ownership of the 3,200-square-foot space in June, taking over for founder and owner Nancy Colalillo.
During her 30-year career in information technology, de Bodisco dreamed of opening a bookstore in her retirement. “I have been a book collector and a book nut since I was born,” said de Bodisco, who started an online store in 1993 and opened brick-and-mortar bookstore op.cit. in Santa Fe in 2011.
When Colalillo was looking to leave Tome on the Range, which she opened in an 1800s-era commercial building on the Santa Fe Trail in 1996, a business broker set up the opportunity for de Bodisco to take a look at the property. “It’s the only bookstore in a very small town,” said de Bodisco, so she was cautious at first. “But what was clear was that the town was very supportive of the bookstore and very proud of it.”
Looking at the store’s business model, de Bodisco identified ways she could change and improve the business structure to make it successful as her second store. Then she came up with her elevator pitch.
“We want to be the Anthropologie of bookstores,” said de Bodisco of both Tome on the Range and op.cit., referring to the trendy retailer that offers an eclectic selection of vintage-style clothing and housewares. De Bodisco’s goal is to bring in unique and interesting book-related items that span a variety of interests and budgets. “We’re determined to do what it takes to succeed, but to also make it a really interesting experience for people. Maybe you’ll see some great vintage kids’ books, some cool toys, or a vintage chair.”
Keeping primarily new books as the main stock at Tome and new and used at op.cit., the bookstores will work in tandem. “They complement each other in a really nice way. So many people who live in Las Vegas work in Santa Fe, so they go to that store. If we don’t have a book here, we may have it there,” said de Bodisco.
During her weeks of ownership in June and July, de Bodisco has been listening to her customers to discover what kinds of titles the store should be carrying.
Changing the price point of the books has been the principal goal thus far, bringing in titles that will fit the budgets of all different types of customers visiting the store. Higher-quality used books, lower-cost journals, and costlier rare books will be added to the selection, along with more unique and unexpected books. “It doesn’t matter if you have $5 or $1,000, you can still find something interesting and fascinating,” said de Bodisco. “You can buy a $1 card or a $500 first edition.”
The store’s sidelines section is being reworked to include additional book-related items, including reading glasses, journals, and cards. New seating areas and upgraded lighting are coming into the store as well.
Open for business every day of the week, de Bodisco plans to begin serving free coffee to customers visiting the store on Sundays, when many other shops in town are closed.
The store’s inventory will also soon be available for customers to view on Tome’s website, and de Bodisco plans for the store to have a stronger online presence in general. “Pretty much, we’re listening to the community,” said de Bodisco of the changes she is making to the store.
In a town that’s home to plenty of movie backdrops, including No Country for Old Men and Easy Rider, the history and local writers are critical to Tome on the Range’s business, and de Bodisco is very excited to continue in that tradition.
“Our first event was a major deal,” said de Bodisco, as the author had written a book about the town of Las Vegas and its history. “We sold 100 copies because everyone here is in the book!”
In her goodbye newsletter on June 7, Colalillo asked customers to give a warm welcome to her successor and staff. “We have both worked hard to keep an independent bookstore alive here for Las Vegas and our surrounding communities,” she wrote. She acknowledged that Tome will be different under new management, “but it will be, and that was the most important consideration for me.”
The town of Las Vegas has warmly received de Bodisco, as Colalillo had hoped. “We’ve literally only been open for a month,” said de Bodisco. “We’re still working on it, but it’s been very positive.”
“Since the doors have opened, we’ve had the support of the community. People are thrilled we’re here.”